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American Groundnut aka the Potato Bean, a Perennial Climbing Vine


American Groundnut aka the Potato Bean, a Perennial Climbing Vine

By Adam Peterson – Own work, CC BY-SA 3.0,

American groundnut (apios americana) is a spreading, perennial vine native to North America (including Southern Canada). The vine generally grows up to 16 feet and bears edible beans and tubers which is similar to a potato but has a nuttier flavor. It was once a main food staple for Native Americans.

By James St. John – Apios americana – American groundnut (Indian potato) (Symmes Creek, Muskingum County, Ohio, USA) 1, CC BY 2.0,

American groundnut grows hardly in USDA Zones 3-7, but can also grow up to zone 10 in the eastern part of the US. The vine prefers full sun but will benefit from afternoon shade in hotter areas. The vines will benefit greatly from being grown vertically. It requires well – draining, moist soil that is rich with organic matter and slightly sandy. Plants should be established from tubers in early spring and require a one-year growth period before they can be harvested.

American groundnut generally produces stunning, pea-like, reddish-brown fragrant, flowers in early to late summer. The vine is also a larval host to the Silver-spotted Skipper (Epargyreus clarus) butterfly. Unfortunately, deer and rodents are also attracted to American groundnut but plants are usually disease resistant. Because it is technically a legume, American groundnut is a nitrogen fixer but plants can become a bit weedy and can spread.

American Groundnut would be a welcome addition to pollinator, wildlife, native and edible gardens.

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